Spotlight on Service:

Carolyn
RIS Mentor
Refugee and Immigration Services

How did you first learn about the Refugee and Immigration Services Mentoring Program? How long have you been a mentor?
When I first heard about the RIS Mentoring Program, I checked out the opportunity on the website. I moved to Portland in July and applied to be a mentor in October when the program was recruiting again. By November, I was paired with my mentee, so I’ve been a mentor for about 3 months so far.

What made you interested in volunteering as a mentor?
I’m very interested in this type of opportunity, because I had an incredible experience spending two years in Cambodia teaching English to women ages 18-24. I really enjoy working with that age group, and the RIS Mentoring program offers a similar opportunity to continue that mission. My time in Cambodia gave me insight into what it’s like having to adjust to a different way of life. Going from a developing to a more developed country is a huge shock.

What does volunteering as a mentor entail?
My mentee is a young woman from Iraq, and I meet with her once a week. As a mentor, I act as a guide for her career path, and I’m currently helping her to navigate post-college life. She is interested in the medical field, and we’re currently researching CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) opportunities. I also helped her find a volunteer role to help gain some career experience. I am learning new things through our research, too!

What do you enjoy about this experience?
It’s a very rewarding experience. I love spending time with my mentee – she’s so inspiring!

What have you learned from volunteering as a mentor?
This experience has given me a better sense of what refugees and immigrants face – it’s staggering. I’ve also discovered more resources and community networking opportunities.

Do you think you will continue being a mentor?
Absolutely, it is very rewarding!